After the Big Ten announced it will only play conference games for fall sports this season, it nixed Syracuse football a game. That may be the first domino.
Syracuse football fans had been looking forward to an away game in Piscataway, New Jersey, this fall against former Big East rival, Rutgers. Those hopes were dashed when the Big Ten decided to follow a conference only model for fall sports this season, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to leave a mammoth imprint on the sports landscape.
In a statement released on July 9 by the Big Ten, it announced that “if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports.”
This announcement came just one day after the Ivy League, who have continued to take the first steps of precaution, announced a similar model of conference-only play for fall sports in 2020.
For Syracuse, the Big Ten change means that Rutgers, who SU was originally slated to face off against on September 12th, will no longer take on the Orange.
Not only does this bring the Syracuse football game count down to 11, but it also eliminates the one non-conference matchup that ‘Cuse fans were overly excited for. Not too long ago, Syracuse and Rutgers were both a part of the Big East. That yearly battle is now gone. This year’s battle will have to wait at least another.
Although it isn’t clear whether the ACC will follow the Big Ten and Ivy League in playing just conference games this season, ACC commissioner John Wildhack did release a statement. It appears that Wildhack may have a few options he’s looking at by the wording of his press release:
“Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season. The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”
College football fans everywhere want the season to go on. If it means eliminating non-conference battles for the sake of pushing the season back and having less travel, then so be it. However, if that were the case, it would make more sense for Syracuse to keep its games against nearby Colgate and even Rutgers, compared to all the way down to Clemson and Florida State.
This brings up the argument that the fall season may just be too soon for the return of college athletics. Sure, basketball is set to start in November – just two months later than football. However, that’s two more months of preparation, social distancing, and perhaps closer to findings a cure to the virus.
Either way, the clock is ticking. With the season approaching its current start date in early September, there are less than two whole months to come to a complete decision. For Syracuse football, the worst-case scenario will go unsaid. But we may have to start thinking about it.